arbitrarily [definition?]

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  • Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Yes, but not exactly.

    If a decision is made arbitrarily, it is made on the basis of personal choice as contrasted with any logical or rational basis for the choice.

    It's specifically a capricious or random personal choice, rather than a reasoned personal choice.

    Contrast this type of arbitrary personal choice with a personal choice made with ulterior motive. The decision made arbitrarily is done on a whim; the decision made with an ulterior motive is done for a reason, a hidden reason.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Actually, I’ve always found this fascinating, in that arbitrary and arbitrate/arbitration seem to be opposite ends of the same scale:

    Make an arbitrary decision = decide something somewhat randomly, without thinking it through properly.

    Arbitration = thinking things through in a rational manner and then reaching a considered and authoritative judgement or settlement.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The etymology comes from arbiter, which has come to mean a judge.

    Do do something arbitrarily is to do it basing one's judgement on one's will, rather than one's reason.

    Some people use the word to mean randomly, in an aleatory fashion, determined by the throw of dice.
     

    rituparnahoymoy

    Senior Member
    Assamese -India
    The etymology comes from arbiter, which has come to mean a judge.

    Do do something arbitrarily is to do it basing one's judgement on one's will, rather than one's reason.

    Some people use the word to mean randomly, in an aleatory fashion, determined by the throw of dice.
    I am very confused. Did the words " arbitration and arbitrary"originate from the same word? If yes, then whey have they two different meaning?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    When I look at the dates and uses in the OED, here's what the connexion seems to be. In law, some offences have fixed punishments, with no choice. Others can be decided by a judge or arbiter: they are discretionary or arbitrary or flexible. From there the adjective developed its meaning to its modern sense.
     
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